Interesting op-ed piece from Frank Rich in the New York Times: We’re not in Watergate anymore.
Again following the Watergate template, the Bush administration at first tried to bury the whole Wilson affair by investigating itself. Even when The Washington Post reported two months after Mr. Wilson’s Op-Ed that “two top White House officials” had called at least six reporters, not just Mr. Novak, to destroy Mr. Wilson and his wife, the inquiry was kept safely within the John Ashcroft Justice Department, with the attorney general, according to a Times report, being briefed regularly on details of the investigation. If that rings a Watergate bell now, that’s because on Thursday you may have read the obituary of L. Patrick Gray, Mark Felt’s F.B.I. boss, who, in a similarly cozy conflict of interest, kept the Nixon White House abreast of the supposedly independent Watergate inquiry in its early going.
Political pressure didn’t force Mr. Ashcroft to relinquish control of the Wilson investigation to a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, until Dec. 30, 2003, more than five months after Mr. Novak’s column ran. Now 18 more months have passed, and no one knows what crime Mr. Fitzgerald is investigating. Is it the tricky-to-prosecute outing of Mr. Wilson’s wife, the story Judy Miller never even wrote about? Or has Mr. Fitzgerald moved on to perjury and obstruction of justice possibly committed by those who tried to hide their roles in that outing? If so, it would mean the Bush administration was too arrogant to heed the most basic lesson of Watergate: the cover-up is worse than the crime.